Gordon Moore knows church finances. He’s a Certified Financial Planner and has been the Business Administrator of Perimeter Church, just outside Atlanta, for over thirty years. Gordon was the Business Manager for the Presbyterian Church in America’s Administration Committee, starting in 1978, and helped formed what is now the PCA Retirement and Benefits, Inc.
In 1985, he went on staff at Perimeter Church, at that time a smaller version of what became one of the largest churches in the denomination. “The size has changed, but my role and our mission has remained the same,” Gordon said.
Gordon said he had learned a lot serving under Senior Pastor Randy Pope. Given his years of service, he’s seen many changes throughout the PCA and Perimeter. We sat down with him and asked what wisdom he could pass along to churches and church leaders from his experience.
The following are three tips on money and leadership for pastors to build a healthy, holistic work-life balance:
1. Be financially wise.
Ministry is tough. At times, you will make many difficult choices, including financial decisions. “Be careful: The two things that can bring down a ministry are moral or financial impropriety,” Gordon said. Things don’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you might be tempted to cover up or blame someone else, especially in money matters.
“There will be times when you feel that people or leadership are against you, but I encourage you to humble yourself and be transparent, especially with financial matters,” Gordon said. “My experience has been that people will appreciate you more when you live with integrity and truth. That is a daily journey, wrapped up in your private and public worship, but is essential in your calling.”
2. Cherish your wife.
Just as quickly as finances can bring down a church, they can also just as easily tear apart a family. Plan and budget well to cultivate your relationship with your wife. “If your financial house is not in order, this financial distraction will rob both you and your wife of full ministry impact,” Gordon said. “Take the time to be equipped. Establish an active and usable home budgeting process. I recommend YNAB (You Need A Budget) or Mint. Both are excellent.”
Your wife will be one of your key unpaid staff, who will be a tremendous blessing to the church and you. “I’d also recommend that you save room in your budget to find ways to bless her,” Gordon said. “I have heard of pastors who, from the beginning of their ministry, hire someone to clean their home regularly.”
3. Build a team.
At Perimeter, the Session approves the budget, the staff and key lay people spend the money and the deacons audit the systems and results. This works in small and large churches. It is critically important to define roles and responsibilities.
“Try to understand how God has wired you,” Gordon advised. “What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Based on that, recruit people around you to free you up to focus on your strengths.” And especially develop a strong financial team.
There are plenty of horror stories of pastors mishandling money. When trust is broken, it’s hard to be restored. Gordon thinks pastors should mostly remove themselves from the church’s financial operations.
“I would encourage a senior pastor not to handle money,” Gordon said. “I want a pastor to be able to say, ‘I’m not involved in collecting and paying money out.’ Separation is critical. Plus, “It’s one less thing for you, as a pastor, to worry about,” Gordon said.
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